Monday, October 26, 2020

2020.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 35:9–15

Read Genesis 35:9–15

Questions from the Scripture text: Who appears to Jacob in Genesis 35:9? How does verse 9 describe the timing of the appearance? What else did He do to Jacob? What did God say his name is (Genesis 35:10)? How long would it be his name? What would his name be now? What did God say about Himself in Genesis 35:11? What does He command Jacob to do? What will proceed from him? Who will come from his body? What does God give him in Genesis 35:12? To whom else did He give it? What did God do then in Genesis 35:13? What does Jacob set up in Genesis 35:14? What two things does he pour on it? What did Jacob call the name of the place (Genesis 35:15)? Why?

Jacob and his family sinned grievously in chapter 34. In Genesis 35:1–7, the Lord brought Jacob near by sacrifice to show that the guilt of his sin would be put on a substitute—Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, hallelujah!

So, the penalty has been paid, but what damage has been done to the promises of God? None at all! He is God Almighty, El Shaddai, and He will overcome Jacob’s Jacob-ness to bring about the complete fullness of everything that He has promised.

Here, God really reiterates two sets of promises. The first is the blessing made at the river Jabbok in chapter 32. The second is the promise that God had made to Abraham at the beginning of chapter 17. Praise God that He is strong to overcome both the guilt and the consequences of our sin. His promises are not dependent upon us at all. 

What were these promises?

When Jacob crossed the Jabbok and the Lord met him and wrestled him (Genesis 32:22–27), the Lord had blessed him by saying, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed […] and He blessed him there” (Genesis 32:28Genesis 32:29). 

Now, with a fair amount of backsliding and sin under Jacob’s belt since then, the question arises: what of the promise implied in that name change and that blessing by the river Jabbok? “Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, ‘your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel” (Genesis 35:9–10). In other words, the blessing relies upon the character and purpose of God in a way that will overcome even such great and consequential sin as Jacob’s and his family’s!

This has been a problem before. Abraham had failed spectacularly in the Hagar/Ishmael experiment in chapter 16. Thirteen years had passed. Had Abraham’s failure inhibited God’s declared intent to use him? When Scripture gives us the first recorded words of God in 13 years, He comes and says, “I am God Almighty […] I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you […] also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger…” (Genesis 17:1Genesis 17:6Genesis 17:8). Now, in chapter 35, God comes to Jacob with the same introduction and makes the same promises, “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land” (Genesis 35:11–12). 

In other words, the promise that God made in the wake of Abraham’s failings is undiminished in the wake of Jacob’s failings. Why? Because now in Genesis 35, as then in Genesis 17, Jacob’s (as Abraham’s) walking before God depended upon the power of that God before Whom he was to walk. 

When weak Noah gets off the boat, when weak Abraham has just stumbled, and when weak Jacob has just stumbled, God is able to say, “be fruitful and multiply”—not merely to make more people, but to fill the earth with a new humanity, in the image of God through their re-creation in Jesus Christ. God’s people, and God’s promises, depend upon God’s Almighty power. It does not absolve us of duty: this is a command that God gives Jacob in Genesis 35:11. But it does present to us the means by which we are to work, and the grounds upon which we are assured: God’s Almighty power.

What are you commanded to do in your roles in life right now? How will you be able to walk in that role in a way that honors the Lord? Upon what can your hope for fruitfulness be assured?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH413 “Revive Thy Work, O Lord”

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